Tom Carper, U.S. Senator for Delaware

WASHINGTON – Today the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing to consider the nominations of Stefan M. Selig to be Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, Darci Vetter to be Chief Agricultural Negotiator, and Henry Aaron, Lanhee Chen and Alan Cohen to be members of the Social Security Advisory Board.

A copy of Sen. Carper's remarks, as prepared for delivery, follows:

“I would like to welcome all of our nominees to today’s hearing and thank you for willingness to serve and go through the nomination process. As chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, I know how time consuming the nomination process can be for not only the nominee, but also for the committee. That’s why I would also like to thank the chairman for moving these nominees forward in a timely fashion.

“Today’s hearing highlights the fact that we are lacking critical leadership in numerous positions in just about every agency, undermining the effectiveness of our government. This has been a problem that has plagued the executive branch through both Democratic and Republican administrations — a problem so prevalent that I refer to it as ‘executive branch Swiss cheese.’

“While Congress and the Administration have taken steps to address this problem, the fact remains that we still have more work to do to ensure that we have talented people in place to make critical decisions. A great example of this is the position for Chief Agriculture Negotiator within the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Both the Bush and Obama Administrations have had difficulties getting someone in this position confirmed. The current nominee, who is well qualified and before us today, Ms. Darci Vetter, has been waiting about six months to just have her hearing.

“While she waits, our country is in trade negotiations with countries across the world that could be critical for our agriculture community. For a state like mine where agriculture is a huge economic driver – the outcome of these trade negotiations could mean millions of dollars in additional economic revenue.

“Confirming Ms. Vetter allows U.S. agriculture to be at the negotiating table, which is critical for our agriculture community and my state of Delaware. That is why I look forward to working with my colleagues to quickly confirm Ms. Vetter and the other qualified nominees before us today.”